It's my intention in this blog series to follow two parallel paths - one, my ideas and speculations on the creative process and its place in our time; the other a personal story of an unusual series of events that were catalytic to a transformation in my own consciousness development. Ultimately the paths converge, for creative expression in all of its forms is, in my experience, both an expression and a vehicle of transformation guided by the evolutionary impulse; it is where evolution is happening right here, right now. Darwin had it only partially right.
To introduce the personal story, I spoke of a Sunday in May, and indeed that was a catalytic moment; but there is an important background context that I'll lay out first. This was a time of
the second, most extreme existential crisis I have experienced. What I mean by existential crisis is this - every value, every belief, every constant that I had relied upon to define my sense of self, of my place in the world, of my very being had been stripped bare and viscerated, reduced to heaps of absurdity and chaos. The details are unimportant. Just know that I was staring out over an abyss and there was...nothing. All meaning gone, all purpose gone, not even a glimmer of light or life. The only experience left was that of pain and terror, and even these were ephemeral phantoms that dissolved as soon as I tried to grasp them. This was a massive ripping away of egoic identity that left me utterly abandoned.
Lest you think I was feeling sorry for myself....well, ok, I was. But this was deeper and darker than self-pity alone; it was terrifying. Ironically, the real source of that terror was the absolute transparent awareness that this hell was of my own creation. There was no angry God, no government, no institution, no social structure, not a single individual on the face of the planet I could pin it on. I was radically, irrevocably responsible for all of it, and even as I had a pretty clear idea how I got there, I had no idea how to get out. I was Dante at the Gates of Hell standing alone, not a Virgil in sight to take my hand and guide me through the depths.
(As an aside, during this time I had a conversation with a young friend who was in the midst of her own existential crisis - very different in content, very similar in quality. At one point in our talk she made the comment "Suddenly, suicide starts to look all kinda warm and fuzzy". I knew exactly was she was talking about.)
So there I was, standing between terrifying nothingness and soft and fuzzy, literally paralyzed. However, eventually something happened as I took on that radical responsibility for everything in my predicament. That realization, when I finally and completely accepted it, opened a tiny window for me to slip through. There was a nagging voice whispering in my ear constantly, hissing "get over yourself... get over yourself...get over yourself". Finally in frustration I retorted " But I don't have a self anymore!!!". And that, my friends, was the moment I realized that it was all paradoxically, stupidly, sublimely hilarious... and that it was time to cowboy-up and march onward into the fog. Straight toward a Sunday in May.
To be continued...